The Types of Travertine Tiles


Travertine comes from the limestone family and is also commonly referred to as travertine limestone or travertine marble, though it's neither limestone nor marble. The surface area is porous, with many noticeable holes and crevices that may or may not be filled by installers. The use of travertine as a building material dates back to ancient Roman times. The Coliseum of Rome is one such building where travertine was used. Still widely used today, there are various types of travertine tiles to choose from in regards to colors, finishes and cuts.

What Is Travertine?

  • Travertine is a sedimentary stone, formed over a long period of time by minerals dissolving into the ground water and then depositing onto the earth's surface from geysers, natural springs or rivers. There are visible holes and crevices on the stone surface, which installers sometimes fill with grout. If going for a rustic look and feel, consider leaving travertine tile unfilled. Certain installations, such as an outdoor garden path, do not require these holes and crevices to be filled either.


  • Uses for travertine include: countertops, flooring material, garden paths, paving patios, showers, wall cladding and wall coverings. The minerals found in travertine are extremely reactive with anything acidic. Location and environmental exposure should therefore be carefully considered. Sealers provide some protection, but environmental exposure will be the determining factor of whether travertine should be used for a particular project.


  • Tiles will vary in color due to iron compounds and other impurities. This causes color variation among individual travertine tiles and is why this natural stone is never one solid color. Because of the color variation, no two tiles are exactly alike. With that said, the coloring for a set of travertine tile should still closely match one another, with the color variation being minimal and not that visible to the eye.


  • Travertine finishes are polished (shiny), honed (matte), brushed or tumbled (textured surfaces). Honed (polished) travertine surfaces are flat and smooth and is the most common finish. Good quality travertine requires minimal polishing to make the stone shiny and reduce any holes or crevices. Brushed and tumbled travertine surfaces are flat and textured, with many holes present. Edges and corners are rough and sometimes wavy. This creates an overall rough looking tile. Tumbled surfaces are best for those who want the least amount of light reflected.

Cut Variations

  • Travertine tiles come in vein or crosscuts (fleuri cut). Vein cuts are done against the bedding and reveal bedding planes (the lines). Crosscuts are done along the bedding planes, causing a circular pattern instead of a linear pattern to the stone.

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